Careers Perspectives – from the Bath careers service

Focus on your future with expert advice from your careers advisers

Tagged: career choice

My story: working internationally - broadening your horizons

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📥  Advice, Career Choice, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Uncategorized

Broadening your horizons – working internationally

international horizons

Working abroad can be an incredible experience. I have worked in three different countries; USA, UK and Norway (I am Norwegian) and I have volunteered teaching English in China and Argentina. I have had some amazing experiences which I don’t want to change for the world, but at the same time it is important to be prepared and realise that applying for jobs and working abroad may bring its own issues as well. This is my personal story on how working internationally has changed me, broadened my horizons and made me who I am today, but I will also share some important lessons as well.

 

Thinking about working internationally?

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You want to work overseas and have a real wish to explore the world? Then go for it! However, do consider any language, visa or work permit requirements of the country you are going to. Finding a job in Argentina without speaking Spanish will limit the job opportunities straight away. In addition, if you would like to work in Norway you are pretty much limited to bar and café work if you do not speak Norwegian. You may also have visa limitations. After going to University in the US, I had a year’s work permit, which I was sure I could extend. I was six months in to a job I loved, with colleagues I loved in a city I loved (Seattle), when I found out that the work permit could not be extended. I did not have a job that fit the visa requirements and had to leave the country within the next 4 weeks, saying goodbye to everyone in the process. My lesson to you is therefore to research as much as possible before you go!

 

Applying for jobs internationally?

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Be aware that applying for jobs and selection processes may be slightly different depending on which country you are looking to work in. After 15 years in the UK I moved back to Norway in 2014. Networking and who you know is very important with regards to applying for jobs in Norway and as I had not kept many social networks, I discovered that in the interview process many of the interview attendees already worked for the company or knew someone in the company. In addition, the interview questions were personality-based (similar to strength-based), as they did not care too much about your skills or experience but instead they wanted to figure out whether you, as a person, would fit in the company. The whole interview normally just turned into an informal chat. Being used to competency-based questions from the UK I must say it took a couple of interviews to adapt! Researching how different countries have different selection processes and also what websites to look at to find work, is therefore important.

We have some excellent links and resources on our website, also Prospects and TargetJobs have wonderful resources and country guides for you to look through,

 

Working internationally

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So you have researched where you want to go and have successfully applied for a job overseas. Well done, your year(s) ahead may be full of new adventures, new friendships, perhaps learning a new language and, of course, a new job. In my last job in the US I worked at a US-Asian NGO and I learnt so much in few months I was there (before my visa expired) and met some amazing people from the US as well as many Asian countries. In some ways it laid the basis for the person I am today, I learnt to work with people from different cultures and with different ways of communicating and working. For example, any decision whether small or large always had to be made together, so I attended lots and lots of meetings in this job with people from all levels of seniority. In addition, I learnt the importance of company health insurance in the US and the very limited number of holiday days you get! In Norway, on the other hand, I learnt that in addition to your normal sick days, as a mother (or father) you get additional sick days for your child. You learn quickly that there are different ways of working, of communicating or solving issues. These are just some of the charms of working abroad and will really benefit you in any jobs and teams in the future.

Apart from the job, you now have the opportunity to explore the city and the country you are in. Be a tourist, be a local, try new food, connect with people, learn new customs, find new activities, explore your new life! I still think that some of the best seafood I have ever had is from Seattle harbourside, the best food overall is from China, I have visited old castles and palaces, volcanoes and mountain ranges, learnt that I actually do like walking in nature and have met some wonderful people along the way.

 

After working internationally

ADAPT2

So, you have decided to come home again from working overseas.  I have learnt a lot from working abroad, but it is my ability to adapt to different circumstances and different people which I value the most. You learn different ways of working, different ways of applying for jobs and you get to know a different country, often getting to know the country “the local way” if you stay long enough. In addition, I have learnt a lot about myself in the process, increasing my self-confidence and awareness of myself and other people, whatever area of the world they are from.

Employers in the UK really look positively on people with international experience, as they bring back valuable skills, a creative outlook, different experiences, networks and the ability to adapt to any situation and communicate to people from a variety of backgrounds.  Maybe you can find a job in an international company that can take advantage of your expertise in a specific country? I have found that my international experience has interested employers, it is usually a topic of conversation in interviews and I have gained employment at least in some part owing to my experience overseas. Therefore, if you feel up to the challenge and think you will truly enjoy and thrive living in a different country, then go for it! It will be an adventure of a lifetime and you will change as a person.

Want to get to know other people who have worked abroad? Have a look at our international case studies.

So what happened to me?

I still work “overseas” as I have found my second home here in the UK, learning to live life “the local way”.  Now I can’t imagine to be anywhere else. I have lived here for nearly 16 years in total. So be aware that “a few years working abroad” may turn into a lifetime........

 

 

 

Finding a Job other than a “Graduate Scheme”

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📥  Advice, Applications, Careers Resources, Graduate Jobs, inspire, Networking, Tips & Hints

Finding a Job other than a “Graduate Scheme”

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So, you have applied to several graduate schemes but have not been successful or perhaps you have not had the time to apply, or maybe you are not interested in applying to a graduate scheme at all? Well, there are plenty more opportunities for you.


Laura from Careers Services is delivering an excellent talk on “Finding a Job other than a “Graduate Scheme” on Wednesday 15th February 17:15 – 18:05, make sure to book your place through MyFuture!


It is the bigger employers in certain sectors that offer graduate training schemes. Smaller to medium enterprises (SMEs) generally don’t have the time or the money to develop and plan big schemes. In many SMEs you may find that you can develop your skills more broadly and informally than in a big company. Generally, you may be able to gain experience in different roles with different responsibilities in a smaller company.

So what do you do next? Well, one point you have to consider is that smaller companies tend to only recruit when there is actually a role available, they do not think too much of the timings of an academic year! Some smaller companies may not even advertise at all, and just pick from their earlier trainees or perhaps from speculative applications or from networking. What I want to convey is that you may not find the job you want just by perusing job search sites online!

Here are a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Research and find out about potential employers

Find out about companies and organisations out there, think about where you want to work and in what type or organisation you would like to work in. Would you like to work in a small organisation or perhaps would you prefer to work close to home?

  1. Check our Occupational Research section on our website.  This has links to professional bodies, job vacancy sites and other relevant information organised by job sector
  2. Check our Job Hunting by Region section on our website for company directories in all UK regions.
  3. Research job roles on prospects.ac.uk which has over 400 job profiles which include important information about the role, skills needed and also links to job vacancy and professional bodies.
  4. You can also research companies through library databases, see my earlier blog post on how to do this.
  5. Use LinkedIn to identify employers, see earlier blog post on how to do this.
  6. Check MyFuture and look through the Organisations link from the menu bar. This is a list of organisations that University of Bath have been in contact with at some point.
  7. We may have some relevant help sheets for you, specific to your degree. Check our Help Sheet section on our website.

 

Search for job adverts online / hard media

  1. Some of the above links have direct links to job sites online, but there are also other job websites which are normally used, my personal favourite is Indeed, however it can be confusing at first to find what you are looking for. Make sure to search relevant key words.  The University of St Andrews has an excellent list on their website: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/careers/jobs-and-work-experience/graduate-jobs/vacancy-sites/uk/jobhuntingontheinternet/
  2. Check newspapers; local, regional and national websites can have job adverts listed, both in hard copy and online.
  3. Some companies and organisations do not use job websites to recruit new staff and only advertise their new roles on their own website, so always good to check!

Social networking / applying speculatively

  1. Use your contacts: friends, family, co-workers, academics, coaches and ask them to ask around too, you never know what may come out of it. Make sure people around you know that you are looking for a job. A few years ago I was searching for a job and as all my friends knew, I received interesting opportunities in my email inbox every week, especially from friends who were already searching for a job and kept me in mind when trawling through websites online or networking.
  2. Go to networking events, career fairs, sector-specific events, specific employer events, both on or off campus. You can find our events on MyFuture. You never know who you may meet.
  3. Use social media to connect, follow and interact with potential employers. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can all be used, but make sure to stay professional!
  4. If you find a company or organisation you really like the look at, but you can’t find a vacancy, apply speculatively with an email and your CV, but make sure to try and find a contact name  to send it to and write a professional targeted cover letter in the email.

Use recruitment agencies

Recruitment agencies may be a good option, check our link on our website  for more information.

Further information

I wish you all the best in your job hunting, if you want more information about this topic, please go to the talk (as mentioned above) or you can find lots of great information in our Finding a graduate job – guide, which can also be picked up in our office in the Virgil Building, Manvers Street, Bath city centre.

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Choosing between career options

  

📥  Career Choice

I've spoken to quite a few people recently who have said something on the lines of  'I'm considering career option x, but I'm also interested in option y; how do I know which is right for me?' If you're feeling this way you might find it helpful to have a 1:1 chat with a careers adviser, but here's a few thoughts on how to go about choosing between options.

1. Recognise that there isn't necessarily just one thing you would find satisfying and be good at, so don't put too much pressure on yourself to narrow things down to just one option. I suspect lots of us are suited to more than one thing.

2. Sometimes fear of making the 'wrong' decision can hold us back from making any decision. The nature of work is changing; it's much more common than it used to be to switch jobs/companies/sectors. Decisions can of course have consequences, but it's worth bearing in mind that any decision you make at this stage is unlikely to be catastrophic or irrevocable. We are constantly changing and developing as people, and our careers are influenced by externals factors such as economic conditions and personal and family circumstances, so even if you do have a fixed career plan at this point you might find that you have a different plan in a few months' or years' time.

3. Do you know enough about what you want from a job? Sometimes I've seen people struggle to decide between career options because they've tried to think too early about particular jobs they could do without having a broader sense of what their looking for from a career. What has motivated you from your course, work experience, extra curricular activities, or life in general? What day-to-day activities do you want to do as part of a job? What type of environment would suit you? Do you want to use your subject? Work in a particular geographical location? Have a good work-life balance? Our online guidance tools can help you answer some of these questions; as could a careers guidance appointment with one of our impartial, friendly careers advisers. Choosing between options can be easier if you have some criteria to weigh your options against.

4. Have you done enough research into the options you're considering? Are there any gaps in your knowledge and how can you fill these? Use our online careers resources and sites such as Prospects and Target Jobs to thoroughly research your options, and wherever you can, talk to people already doing the jobs you are interested in; use social media and Bath Connection to find Bath alumni contacts, and ask people what they actually do day-to-day and what are the best and worst things about their job. Check out any assumptions you have about what particular jobs or organisations are like.

5. Get some experience. This could be work shadowing, a summer internship, or a placement. Check out our Finding Working Experience Guide for more information and advice.

6. Work out your decision-making style. How have you made decisions about other aspects of your life and how could this help you in your career decision-making? Evaluative decision-makers like to engage in a process of self-reflection and identify long-term career goals. Strategic decision makers like to weigh up the pros and cons of options to reach a fixed solution. Opportunistic decision makers will seize opportunities when they come along.

7. Favourite resource alert! I really like this tool from Careers - in Theory by David Winter, which helps you to think through the similarities and differences between any career options you are researching and considering.

8. Take the wide-angle view. Where are you now and what would you like your life to look like in five years' time? Sure, we can't always know/predict/control these things, but sometimes having a longer-term 'vision' for your life or career can help provide clarity on short-term decisions.

9. Visualisation. This can be a helpful technique if you've done lots of research and are still finding it hard to decide between x and y. Imagine yourself in each situation. What is happening? Who else is there? How do you feel about it? Do you have any regrets about roads not taken?

For further help and resources, take a look at the Choose a Career section of our website.

 

 

 

Personal Profiles on CVs - Yes or a No, No?

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📥  Advice, Applications, Careers Resources, Tips & Hints

This week, we are running our #GetAhead webinars; I am just finishing writing the CV's and Applications talk and found myself in a debate with colleagues over personal profiles on CV's.


Career profiles, personal profiles, career objective, personal statement - are all variations on the same theme, if you google CV tips you'll comer across as many CV's with as you will without personal profiles. The million dollar question is "do you need one?" A quick poll in the office split the vote: some of the team swear by them and others don't (I sit in this category). No wonder students are confused with all this contradictory information.

So, how do you decide whether you should have one?

Firstly, the purpose of a CV, is to grab the attention of the reader and get them interested in knowing more about you. The CV by itself won’t lead to a job offer or a place on a postgraduate course, but it may well be the deciding factor in whether you are shortlisted for an interview. Think about a film trailer. The whole point is to grab your attention enough to make you buy a ticket and watch the whole film. There are good and bad film trailers; some pretty much leave you feeling like you've seen the movie already. Therefore, you need to take the same approach with designing your CV. What can you tell the reader that'll grab their interest and make them want to read the rest of your CV. You don't want to give it all away either...! It is a fine balancing act.

Career profiles, personal profiles, career objective, personal statement... will be the first thing and employer reads about you. They'll form a judgement or two, so if you are going to include one; make sure it is having the right impact. There is also a distinction between a personal profile and a career objective. A personal profile highlights your current situation, skills and unique selling points (USP). A career objective describes the type of job you’re looking for, and where. University of Warwick careers provide useful examples:

Career objective

Computer science graduate seeking challenging position in software development company to fully utilise my Java programming skills and confidence with concurrency and multi-threading.

Personal profile

A highly motivated computer science graduate with a first class degree, experience in Java and award winning undergraduate dissertation.

In practice, often the two often merge to create a hybrid statement, along the lines of:

Highly motivated and enthusiastic  graduate, with an excellent academic credentials including first class degree. Looking for a graduate position, where my Java programming knowledge and strong problem solving skills can be fully utilised.

I will let you judge whether the above make an impactful first impression or not. BUT, If you are going to add a profile, do consider these tips:

  • Avoid a bland statement awash with a collection of vague adjectives and buzzwords.
  • Tailor your profile for each employer and role, highlighting those areas of experience most relevant to the specific job and ensuring your career aspirations exactly match the role on offer
  • Do a blind test - would your personal statement apply to 10 other people? If yes, then re-write it. Think what makes you unique.
  • Read your statement aloud and apply the ‘so what’ test? If your intended audience could respond with a ‘so what’, the chances are they will.

Now to answer the question, personal profiles on CVs - Yes or a No, No?

My personal view is; that it is very difficult for a student or recent  graduate to offer the range of experience and knowledge that transforms a bland, generic statement into an impressive, eye catching profile. I usually advice against unless you are changing careers or have significant experience in the field you are considering. I would be interested to hear the views of our readers, so do please comment.

 

Enable: Careers Events to support Disabled Students

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📥  Advice, Diversity, Tips & Hints

The Enable Careers Events been developed by the Disability Advice Team, the Counselling & Wellbeing Service and the Careers Team at Bath to support students with a physical disability, mental health issue or a learning difficulty.  The programme is made up of webinars (which you can participate in remotely) and concludes with a practical workshop.

Webinar: To disclose or not to disclose your disability?
Wednesday 18 February 2015
1:00-1:45pm

This session will provide an opportunity for participants to consider the pros and cons of disclosing a disability to an employer. We will also discuss the different stages of the selection process and provide guidance on when to disclose. The session will conclude with tips and advice so you feel confident discussing your disability.

Webinar: Job hunting with a disability
Wednesday 25 February 2015
1:00-1:45pm

Making the transition from education into employment is a challenging process for anyone and with a disability, it can be even more daunting. This webinar will answer questions such as what reasonable adjustment should you expect in the selection process and within employment. We will also signpost you to relevant organisations and resources to help you identify friendly employers.

Webinar: Developing resilience in your job search
Wednesday 4 March 2015
1:00-1:45pm

Finding the right placement, internship or graduate role takes time. Along the way you may face knocks; therefore developing a degree of resilience is an essential coping ingredient. This webinar will provide guidance on how you can develop your resilience and manage negative thinking. This session will be delivered by the University's Wellbeing and Counselling team.

Workshop: Succeeding in assessment centres
Wednesday 11 March 2015
4:15-6:05pm

This ½ day training session is designed to help you understand what employers look for in the selection process. There will be short teaching sessions and opportunities to practice skills such as interviews, CV writing and participate in group discussions in a supportive environment. The trainer will provide plenty of opportunities to ask questions and discuss any concerns about the impact of your disability on recruitment.

For more information and to register please log into MyFuture.

Researching Career Sectors

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📥  Advice, Careers Resources, Labour Market Intelligence, Sector Insight, Tips & Hints

Here are our 5 top tips to research career sectors:

career sector

 

  1. Look at sector overviews:  Prospects, TARGETjobs and Inside Careers offer good sector overviews as well as example job profiles for multiple sectors.
  2. Talk to alumni: Log into Bath Connection and talk to Bath alumni working in a wide range of industries.
  3. Consult professional bodies:  find the professional body for the sector you are interested in and check out the latest news, developments and any detailed careers advice.
  4. Use library resources: current Bath students have access to tools such as Hoovers, MarketLine and Passport which provide sector overviews, detailed company information and links to relevant news. Do also check out the detailed information resources produced by the careers team.
  5. Engage with employers on-campus: keep an eye out for the Careers Service's spring programme, as always we will be inviting a wide range of employers who will talk about graduate opportunities, participate in careers fairs and deliver skills session.

 

 

Internship Programme for Students and Graduates with Disabilities or Long-term Health Conditions

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📥  Advice, Diversity, Graduate Jobs, Internships, Placements

Change 100 is a paid placement programme to match talented and ambitious students and recent graduates with disabilities or long-term health conditions with top UK companies. Disabilities or long-term health conditions could include physical, visual or hearing impairments, mental health conditions and learning disabilities like dyslexia and dyspraxia.

Successful applicants get mentoring and guidance throughout a paid three-month work placement.

Apply now - deadline is 30 January!

 

Find out facts not fiction about jobs

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📥  Careers Resources, Networking, Tips & Hints

I was reading an article today on the BBC News website where people are griping about how their job is portrayed on TV. With the number of TV dramas that involve police, legal professionals, scientists, doctors, teachers and their like, you could expect to get a very clear idea about what it is to work in those professions. Indeed the CSI series is said to be single handedly responsible for the rise in Forensic Science degrees.  I recognise how these professionals may feel frustrated by other people's lack of understanding of what their jobs involve; I know I've been there myself. Correct fictional interpretation of a job should mean the writer does their research. Indeed some TV dramas may have a consultant who advises them on medical, legal or science matters and a quick look through the credits usually reveals if someone is in that role. However even where there is a relevant consultant the likelihood is that any advice will be overridden if a more dramatic effect can be achieved by a deviation from the facts.

Word Cloud Tv Dramas

If you have felt inspired to do a job because of fictional account you have read then make sure you look in more reliable places for information. Professional association websites are a good place to start. We have chosen a number of websites for various occupational areas that we think are most helpful to you and placed them in the catalogue on our website. We would also recommend looking at the job profiles you can find on the websites Prospects and TargetJobs. Once you have read what you can then the next step is to talk to people who are doing the job. Read the relevant pages about networking in our Finding a Graduate Job guide. Make sure you check out the Bath Connection to see if there are any Bath alumni who can help you. Remember you can talk to an Adviser at anytime, whether you have a clear idea or not about your future career plans.

 

Is it better to be a specialist rather than a generalist?

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📥  Career Choice

I am writing this after spending some time looking for people to invite to our Careers Event for the Charity Sector which we run in March. I love looking through people's profiles on LinkedIn to learn more about the journey they have made to get the job they currently hold. It is pretty clear that in this particular sector it is common to take a few stepping stone jobs for short periods of time before eventually reaching a job that has a clear level of responsibility. However if you look behind the job titles of the roles of any one person there are common themes. Sometimes the theme is around the skills or expertise being used or the type of clients they are working with, or, in the case of the charity sector, the issue or cause that the organisation is concerned with.

There is a bit of a contradiction going on when you compare the Charity Sector with Graduate Training Schemes. If you are applying to these you will need to be clear about the business function you want to work in as very few offer generalist training schemes. The same may be said if you decide to go on to further study where you will more than likely pick one aspect of your subject to study in more detail unless you are changing subject direction completely.

It can be very confusing and we often talk to students who are worried about specialising and then later discovering it's not for them. Where do you go when you discover your specialism isn't what you wanted? I don't think you should be put off specialising because I don't believe the choice you make now pre-determines the rest of your career. I certainly never had a plan to be a Careers Adviser. What I did learn about myself through my early career was that I was very good at really listening to people, that I had a capacity for researching and conveying information well and had an ability to see connections between sometimes disparate ideas that people had. My work has subsequently revolved around these skills. The fact is you are more likely to have a career that spans a variety of jobs rather than follow a linear progression in one field. As long as your career choices are focused on work activities that embrace things you enjoy doing and that you are good at then you will find a way of transfering those skills to different fields of work in the future if you remain mindful of your skillset and learn how to read job adverts carefully.

The thoughts I have been having on this topic over the past few days were consolidated today when a Tweet drove me to this article by David Schindler "Career Breadth v. Job Depth". I finish with a quote from the article. "This is not an either/or debate – if you’re a specialist, flaunt it; if you’re a generalist, be yourself and promote it."